Old Hand’s Voyage into the Babylonian Heart of Darkness

“Eh shipmate, stand us a pint,” the sleazy drawl of the villainous sploggy reeked at us with an air of imperious command.

McWhirr slowly turned: “Say, do you boys ever ship out on real seas, or are you afraid of getting tar on yer nighties?”

At these words and the atmosphere grew thick with menace.File:Morgan,Henry.jpg

I saw the miscreant clutch tighter the marlin-spike in his beefy fist and hastily interjected:

“My good sirs, may I introduce Saturnius McWhirr?”

At this, the lout grew pale as an albino baluga, saying:

“Pleased to make your acquaintance Captain,” and retreated to his piratical laptop with an obsequious bow.

“Nice Chaps…” said McWhirr, “for a couple of grog-blossomed bottom-feeders. Since we’re stuck in this god-forsaken port shall we splice the main-brace?”

He hailed the barkeep.

Soon, having to pump the bilges, I sought the urinal of the rank Stygian pub and passed a distinguished, bearded gent who sat before an old Underwood typewriter. His gaunt frame seemed mummified in musty, moth-eaten tweeds while his ponderous brows were wreathed in a smokey corona of amber light. On closer inspection, I saw he was merely one of the automated fortune-tellers found in the gaudy theme parks of Babylon. His face was vaguely familiar. On the table front was displayed a sign which read:

The Great Marlowe. Your fortune 25 cents.File:Joseph Conrad 1916.jpg

I dropped a coin into the slot. There was a slight sound from under the table which again halted, began again and increased in speed and volume until the music of bellows and steam pipes sounded over a cacophony of grinding gears like the high registers of Saint Mark’s Cathedral organ. The machine then sputtered to a wheezing halt and ejected a sheet of paper at my feet. I held it up in the murky glow to read:

The horror! The horror!

Categories: Saturnius McWhirr stories | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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George Lakoff

George Lakoff has retired as Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. He is now Director of the Center for the Neural Mind & Society (cnms.berkeley.edu).

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